Ciao Oct/Nov 2019 Ciao_OctNov2019_web - Page 12

inthekitchen tiny kitchen, big ambition Chef Dustin Pajak of Close Company does big things in close quarters. by Jessie Schmidtke “It feels massive now,” jokes Chef Dustin Pajak, stretching his legs out in the 330 square foot River Heights restaurant where he’s been chefing for more than three years. Close Company may be the tiniest restaurant in the city, but Pajak’s talent and ambitious menu carry big intentions. He’s redefining what a neighbourhood restaurant can be. When the space that housed a barber shop for more than 60 years became available, owners Cam Chabot and Tammie Rocke envisioned a cool spot to grab coffee and cocktails, something lacking in the area at the time. Rocke, an interior designer whose touch can be seen at trendy eateries across the city, put her skills to work, adding industrial elements and even lodging a ship porthole in the wall to make the most of their cozy 12-seat space. Candles flicker on dark soapstone surfaces and music gently plays, setting the mood; a little bit soul, a little bit rock and roll. Pajak is a true multi-talented chef, seamlessly transitioning from DJ to mixologist, server to dishwasher all in one night. His days start early, receiving deliveries from farmers and picking up ingredients from neighbourhood suppliers before his guests start to arrive. Seeing the reaction of everyone relishing the first bite of his food makes long days 10 ciao! / oct/nov / two thousand nineteen